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Ole Miss lands historic recruiting class

BBVA Compass Bowl Football AP

(Below is Ole Miss’ press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

OXFORD, Miss. – A flurry of excitement surrounded Ole Miss’ Indoor Practice Facility on Wednesday morning as National Letters of Intent from several of the nation’s top high school prospects flooded in.

Ole Miss became the talk of college football for what Hugh Freeze and his staff were able to accomplish on National Signing Day, luring in a consensus top-10 signing class in just their second year at the helm.

The major recruiting services class rankings currently list Ole Miss at No. 2 (247Sports), No. 5 (ESPN), No. 6 (MaxPreps), No. 7 (Rivals) and No. 9 (Scout).

Eleven high school All-Americans, including the nation’s top overall prospect in Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga.), chose to sign on with Freeze and the Rebels in a historic day for the football program.

“I think today has the possibility of being a program changer,” Freeze said. “Obviously, it’s all on paper right now. We’ll start having to manage expectations now. We’ll still be in the second year of our journey together, but I do think we took a huge step forward today on that journey toward being where we all want to be, and that’s competing for an SEC West championship. We’re thrilled with today.”

The Rebels didn’t just have the college football world abuzz. At one point Wednesday morning, Ole Miss was trending worldwide on Twitter, and it was reported that the Rebels were even the hot topic in the Miami Heat locker room. LeBron James had this to say on his Twitter account: “Ole Miss ain’t messing around today! Big time recruits coming in. SEC is crazy.”

In addition to Nkemdiche, who is the nation’s No. 1 defensive end, Ole Miss reeled in the country’s No. 1 offensive tackle in Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla.), the No. 1 wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill.) and the No. 2 safety in Tony Conner (Batesville, Miss.). That quartet highlights a class that includes 16 players rated 4 stars or better by the various recruiting services.

“Our staff – I think we have some of the rising stars in this profession in the way they went about recruiting and building relationships over the course of a year and executing our 12-month plan,” Freeze said. “I thought they were pretty flawless in that in most regards. Also, our players – I can’t give them enough credit. They sold our program.”

The Rebels pulled in prospects from eight states, including Mississippi (eight), Georgia (six), Tennessee (four), Alabama (three), Texas (three), Florida (two), Illinois (one) and Louisiana (one).

By position, the Rebels welcome to the program a balanced class of four offensive linemen, four running backs, three defensive backs, three defensive linemen, three wide receivers, three tight ends, three athletes, two quarterbacks, two linebackers and a kicker.

Nkemdiche will join his older brother, sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, on the Rebel roster. Denzel earned All-SEC honors as a redshirt-freshman in 2012 while leading Ole Miss to a turnaround 7-6 season and a victory in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The Rebels were just 2-10 and 0-8 in SEC play in 2011 before Freeze’s arrival.

Tunsil is regarded as the third-best overall prospect in the country by 247Sports.com, Treadwell is rated the nation’s fifth-best player by Rivals.com, and Conner is ranked 24th by MaxPreps and ESPN.com. Other signees among the nation’s top 150 include OL Austin Golson (Prattville, Ala.), RB Kailo Moore (Rosedale, Miss.) and RB Mark Dodson (Memphis, Tenn.).

The Ole Miss class is littered with All-Americans. In addition to all of the previously mentioned players, Ole Miss welcomes SuperPrep All-Americans QB Ryan Buchanan (Jackson, Miss.) and RB Jordan Wilkins (Cordova, Tenn.), Semper Fidelis All-Americans TE A.J. Jackson (Hampton, Ga.) and CB David Kamara (Loganville, Ga.) and MaxPreps All-American K Andy Pappanastos (Montgomery, Ala.).

Freeze was eager to point out the depth of the class, not just the headliners.

“One of the strengths of our class is those 4-star and high 3-stars that we’ve got,” Freeze said.

One such player he singled out was 3-star WR Derrick Jones (Eupora, Miss.).

“Derrick Jones may be one of the hidden gems of this class,” Freeze said. “The guy’s a phenomenal athlete. I’ve seen him play basketball. He plays above the rim. I think he can play a lot of places for us from safety to receiver.”

Freeze also mentioned others like TE Evan Engram (Powder Springs, Ga.) and in-state offensive linemen Davion Johnson (Byhalia) and Daronte Bouldin (Canton) that could surprise people despite not being the most highly ranked prospects in the class.

The Rebels received 22 high school signatures on Wednesday to go with three junior college players and three high schoolers that had already signed. One of those junior college recruits, DT Lavon Hooks (Atlanta, Ga.), is rated by 247Sports.com as the top overall JUCO prospect in the country. Ole Miss also welcomed back ATH Nick Brassell (Batesville, Miss.), who was a starter on both sides of the ball as a freshman before attending East Mississippi Community College this past fall.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 28 members of Ole Miss’ 2013 recruiting class.)

Quincy Adeboyejo

WR | 6-3 | 180 | Cedar Hill HS | Cedar Hill, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 4-star recruit, the No. 42 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 43 recruit in Texas by Rivals.com … Rated a 3-star recruit by Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … A member of USA Football’s Under-19 national team that competed at the 2013 International Bowl … Associated Press All-State honorable mention selection after recording 91 catches for 1,265 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior … Led Cedar Hill to the Texas Class 5A Division 2 state title game … Dallas All-Area second team pick by the Dallas Morning News … Coached in high school by Joey McGuire.

Trey Bledsoe

ATH | 6-2 | 190 | Grenada HS | Grenada, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Tabbed the No. 13 recruit in Mississippi and the No. 116 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com … Listed as the No. 16 recruit in Mississippi by Scout.com … Named a top 40 recruit in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Selected to play in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Played in just seven games as a senior due to a broken collarbone, but caught 35 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns … As a junior, totaled 27 receptions for 440 yards with six touchdowns on offense and 30 tackles with three interceptions on defense … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Lamar Pitcock.

Daronte Bouldin

OL | 6-6 | 310 | Canton HS | Canton, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 72 offensive tackle in the country by ESPN.com … Scout.com rated him as the 49th-best offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 6 overall prospect in Mississippi … Second team All-State pick by The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Ranked the No. 9 in-state prospect on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and also named a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Led Canton to the MHSAA Class 5A state playoffs … Participated in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Coached in high school by Peter Brown.

Nick Brassell

ATH | 6-1 | 180 | East Mississippi CC | Batesville, Miss.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Competed as a sophomore for East Mississippi Community College under the direction of head coach Buddy Stephens … Rated 4 stars and the No. 13 JUCO prospect in the nation by 247Sports.com … A 4-star JUCO recruit by ESPN.com and Rivals.com … Rated the No. 2 JUCO prospect in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … MACJC first team All-State selection … Helped EMCC to an 8-2 record and the MACJC North Division championship … Caught 48 passes for 663 yards and six touchdowns, while returning six kicks for 130 yards and six punts for 25 yards … Made four tackles with two pass deflections as a defensive back … Had 12 catches for 191 yards and a TD in the semifinal playoff game against Copiah-Lincoln … 2011 (OLE MISS): Played in 12 games with seven starts (six at WR, one at CB) … First Rebel to start on offense and defense in the same season since 1988 … Second on the team in receptions (24), receiving yards (336) and TD catches (2) … Recorded 22 receptions for 290 yards in SEC play … Finished fourth among SEC freshmen in yards per catch (14.0) … Posted 14 tackles and five PBUs at cornerback … Earned first letter … vs. BYU (9/3): Earned the starting nod at flanker in his first collegiate game … Rushed for -1 yards on two carries … vs. Southern Illinois (9/10): Caught his first career pass for 6 yards and also rushed once for a 12-yard gain … at Vanderbilt (9/17): Saw first action on defense and made one tackle, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broke up the first two passes thrown his way as a cornerback … vs. Georgia (9/24): Caught two passes for 52 yards and rushed for 14 yards on two carries … Returned his first career punt for an 84-yard touchdown … Also made one tackle as a cornerback … at Fresno State (10/1): Caught one pass for 40 yards and rushed for 14 yards on two carries … Also recorded two tackles and a pass breakup as a cornerback … vs. Alabama (10/15): Had a career-best game on offense and defense, catching four passes for 101 yards, including a career-long 59-yard reception that set up the only touchdown of the game for the Rebels … Also recorded five tackles (all solo) at cornerback … vs. Arkansas (10/22): Caught a career-high eight passes for 70 yards and rushed five times for 17 yards, while recording one tackle and one pass breakup on defense … at Auburn (10/29): Caught a team-high four passes for 32 yards and his first career touchdown–a 10-yard reception … Also rushed four times for 19 yards and made one tackle … at Kentucky (11/5): Made first career start on defense, recording three tackles (one solo), including 0.5 TFL on an assisted sack, and a pass breakup … Also caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for 56 yards … vs. LSU (11/19): Caught one pass for a loss of five yards, while rushing once for a loss of 11 yards … Also returned five kickoffs for 93 yards … at Mississippi State (11/26): Returned one kickoff for 18 yards and rushed for 11 yards on three carries … HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army, PrepStar and SuperPrep All-America selection … Listed No. 2 on The Clarion-Ledger’s Top 10 Most Wanted list and was a member of the paper’s Dandy Dozen squad … Earned first team All-State honors from The Clarion-Ledger and was a first team Class 6A All-State pick by the Mississippi Association of Coaches as a senior … A member of the Rivals100 and rated the No. 51 player in the nation by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com … Listed No. 24 on the Mobile Press-Register Super Southeast 120 … Rated the No. 7 wide receiver and the No. 56 overall player in the nation by Scout.com … Listed as the No. 29 wide receiver in the nation by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 1 player in Mississippi by SuperPrep … Participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic as a senior … Posted 52 receptions for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a senior … Recorded 62 catches for 1,272 yards and 16 TDs as a junior … Won Class 6A state title as a senior and helped squad to Rivals.com High School National Championship as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation … Claimed three state titles in high school … Coached in high school by Lance Pogue.

Eugene Brazley

RB | 5-10 | 180 | G.W. Carver HS | New Orleans, La.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 4-star recruit, the No. 38 running back in the nation and No. 20 prospect from Louisiana by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 26 running back in the nation and No. 13 prospect from Louisiana by 247Sports.com … Rated the No. 14 all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.com … Tom Lemming lists him as the 10th-best wingback in the nation … Listed No. 31 on the Times-Picayune’s Nifty 50 … All-State honorable mention by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association … Also received All-District 9-2A and All-New Orleans Area small school honors … Rushed for 1,040 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, while also making 18 catches for 279 yards and three TDs … Led G.W. Carver to the LHSAA Class 2A state quarterfinals … As a junior, rushed for 487 yards and six TDs and caught 13 passes for 149 yards … Had 342 rushing yards and four TDs as a sophomore and 466 yards and five TDs as a freshman … Coached in high school by Bryon Addison.

Ryan Buchanan

QB | 6-4 | 205 | Jackson Prep | Jackson, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: A SuperPrep All-America selection … Listed as a 4-star recruit by ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com … Rated the No. 15 pocket passer in the nation and third-best player in Mississippi by ESPN.com … Rated the No. 19 pro-style QB by Rivals.com and the No. 32 QB in the country by Scout.com … A member of the ESPN 300, ranking No. 193 overall … Rated the No. 3 player in Mississippi by Scout.com and No. 5 by Rivals.com … Listed No. 6 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … All-State first team pick by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and second team by The Clarion-Ledger as a senior … Passed for 1,468 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Jackson Prep to the MAIS-AAA Division 1 state championship … Participated in the MAIS All-Star Game … Led Prep to a state runner-up finish as a junior, passing for 1,326 yards and 14 TDs and rushing for 433 yards in his first season as the starting QB … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Ricky Black.

Tony Conner

S | 6-2 | 205 | South Panola HS | Batesville, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: An Under Armour and SuperPrep All-America selection … Rated a 5-star prospect by Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Listed as the No. 2 safety in the nation by Tom Lemming, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Rated the top prospect in Mississippi by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rated the No. 24 overall recruit in the nation by MaxPreps and ESPN.com, No. 25 by 247Sports.com and No. 31 by Scout.com … Listed No. 2 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Helped South Panola to three Class 6A state championships in his four years as a starter … Named Mississippi’s Mr. Football and first team All-State by The Clarion-Ledger as a senior … Named Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Recorded 74 tackles with three interceptions and 19 passes defended to lead the Tigers to a state title as a senior … Had seven tackles, two TFLs and a pass breakup in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Three-time Mississippi Association of Coaches All-State honoree, including as a running back his junior season when he rushed for 1,472 yards and 22 touchdowns … Posted 23 tackles and two interceptions as a junior … Coached in high school by Lance Pogue.

Mark Dodson

RB | 5-10 | 193 | Whitehaven HS | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: 2012 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year … Led Whitehaven to a 15-0 record and the 2012 Tennessee 6A state title a year after finishing runner-up … Rated a 4-star recruit by all of the major scouting services … Ranked the nation’s No. 5 all-purpose back and No. 149 overall prospect by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 13 RB in the country by Tom Lemming, No. 22 by 247Sports.com, No. 26 by ESPN.com and No. 35 by Scout.com … Rated the No. 5 player in Tennessee by Rivals.com, No. 7 by ESPN.com and No. 8 by 247Sports.com … A first team Class 6A All-State selection by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as a senior … District 16-AAA Player of the Year … Rushed for 3,295 yards and 37 touchdowns as a senior … Ran for 318 yards and five TDs in the state championship game against Maryville, scoring the 2-point conversion that won the game in overtime … Finished his prep career as the all-time leading rusher in Shelby County history with nearly 7,000 yards … Played in the City of Memphis All-Star Game … Rushed for 2,100 yards on 110 carries with 28 TDs as a junior en route to TSWA 6A All-State honors … Finalist for the 2011 Tennessee Mr. Football Class AAA Back award … Rushed for 1,500 yards and 22 TDs as a sophomore … Coached in high school by Rodney Saulsberry.

Evan Engram

TE | 6-3 | 210 | Hillgrove HS | Powder Springs, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 22 tight end in the nation by Scout.com … Rated the No. 27 TE in the country by ESPN.com … Named first team All-State as a senior by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and the Associated Press … All-State honorable mention by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … Hauled in 40 catches for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior … Caught 18 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, helping Hillgrove go 11-1 and advance to the second round of the state playoffs … Caught two touchdowns in the Cobb County All-Star Senior Bowl … Coached in high school by Phillip Ironside.

Austin Golson

OL | 6-6 | 290 | Prattville HS | Prattville, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army and SuperPrep All-America selection … Tabbed a 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the 52nd-best prospect in the nation and No. 3 offensive tackle by ESPN.com … Ranked No. 118 overall and the eighth-best OT by Rivals.com … Ranked the No. 4 recruit in Alabama by ESPN.com and No. 8 by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Rated No. 10 on AL.com’s A-List of top senior football players in Alabama … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Nominated for the AHSAA Class 6A Lineman of the Year award … Two-time Class 6A All-State first teamer by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … Helped Prattville claim the Class 6A state title his junior season, paving the way for an offense that racked up 3,458 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns … Coached in high school by Chad Anderson.

Bobby Hill

DB | 6-0 | 165 | Colquitt County HS | Moultrie, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star recruit and the No. 93 cornerback in the country by Scout.com … Named a second team All-State pick as a wide receiver by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and Associated Press as a senior … Led Colquitt County to the semifinals of the 2012 Class 6A state playoffs while making 78 catches for 1,046 yards and six touchdowns … Led Colquitt County to the semifinals as a junior, as well, racking up 40 catches for 880 yards and eight TDs … Coached in high school by Rush Propst.

Lavon Hooks

DT | 6-4 | 290 | Northeast Mississippi CC | Atlanta, Ga.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played two seasons at Northeast Mississippi Community College under head coach Ricky Smither … NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American as a sophomore … Among all JUCO prospects in the nation, rated No. 1 by 247Sports.com, No. 11 by Scout.com and No. 15 by ESPN.com … Tabbed the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle by JCGridiron.com … Rated the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Selected first team All-State and All-Region XXIII and the state’s Most Valuable Defensive Lineman by the MACJC … Tied for second in the state and region with 9.5 sacks and ranked second among all JUCO players in the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss … Tallied 51 total tackles and had three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries … Recorded 30 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 3.5 TFLs as a freshman … Also played basketball at Northeast, leading the conference in rebounding as a freshman … Spent his first semester of junior college playing basketball for Marion Military Institute (Marion, Ala.) … HIGH SCHOOL: Graduated from Meadowbrook High School in Norcross, Ga., playing football and basketball there … Averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for the hoops team as a senior … Participated in football and basketball at Brookwood High School (Snellville, Ga.) in ninth and 10th grades.

A.J. Jackson

TE | 6-6 | 240 | Lovejoy HS | Hampton, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American … Rated the nation’s 15th-best tight end by Tom Lemming, 16th by 247Sports.com, 22nd by Rivals.com and 23rd by Scout.com … A consensus 3-star prospect … Listed the No. 33 prospect in Georgia by 247Sports.com, No. 38 by the Macon Telegraph and No. 39 by Rivals.com … Member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 75 … Named a second team All-State tight end by the Georgia Sportswriters Association and Associated Press … An All-Region 2-6A first team pick at wide receiver … Led Lovejoy to the Georgia Class 6A state championship game as a junior and senior … Caught 16 passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns as a junior … Also served as Lovejoy’s long snapper … Played in the 2011 AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl … Coached in high school by Al Hughes.

Davion Johnson

OL | 6-4 | 315 | Byhalia HS | Byhalia, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services and the No. 39 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com … Listed as the No. 68 offensive guard in the nation by 247Sports.com and the No. 84 offensive tackle by ESPN.com … Scout.com ranks him the seventh-best player in Mississippi, while ESPN.com has him 12th and Rivals.com 13th … Listed among the top 40 recruits in the state by The Clarion-Ledger and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Led Byhalia to the MHSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals … Played in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … Coached in high school by John Danley.

Derrick Jones

WR | 6-2 | 185 | Eupora HS | Eupora, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Tabbed a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the 61st-best wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com and No. 89 by Scout.com … Listed as the ninth-best recruit in Mississippi by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Listed among the top 40 recruits in the state by The Clarion-Ledger … Caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Named a first team All-State receiver by The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches … Caught 44 passes for 975 yards and 15 touchdowns to help Eupora reach the Class 2A state title game … Also had 39 tackles and six interceptions on defense … All-District selection in football and basketball … Coached in high school by Junior Graham.

David Kamara

CB | 5-10 | 185 | Grayson HS | Loganville, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American … Rated the No. 70 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and No. 85 by ESPN.com … A 3-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Named to the Gwinnett Daily Post All-County third team as a senior after helping Grayson win the Region 8-6A championship … Helped Grayson win the Class 5A state title and compile a 15-0 record en route to a No. 4 ranking by USA Today his junior season when he posted 59 tackles and four interceptions … Coached in high school by Mickey Conn … High school teammate of Rebel All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and fellow Ole Miss signee Robert Nkemdiche

Devante Kincade

QB | 6-1 | 185 | Skyline HS | Dallas, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: Rated a 4-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com … Listed as the 12th-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com and No. 18 by 247Sports.com … Scout.com ranks him as the 26th-best QB overall … Tom Lemming has him as the No. 19 combo QB … Ranked the No. 38 prospect in Texas by ESPN.com … A member of the ESPN 300 … MVP of the 2012 Dallas Elite 11 regional camp and one of 25 finalists for the national Elite 11 camp … The District 9-5A MVP and an All-State honorable mention pick by the Associated Press as a senior … Completed 178-of-281 passes for 2,856 yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while rushing for 861 yards and 12 TDs during his final prep campaign … Was a second team All-State pick as a junior when he led Skyline to the Class 5A state semifinals and passed for 3,270 yards, 37 TDs and eight picks while rushing for 857 yards and 17 scores … Passed for 1,627 yards with 17 TDs and seven picks as a sophomore … Coached in high school by Reginald Samples.

Quadarias Mireles

ATH | 5-11 | 185 | Hinds CC | Delray Beach, Fla.

JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played two seasons at Hinds Community College under head coach Gene Murphy … Rated the No. 8 JUCO prospect in the nation by ESPN.com … Rated a 4-star JUCO prospect by ESPN.com and 3-star by Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Two-time MACJC All-State selection … As a sophomore, led Hinds in receptions (38), kickoff returns (11) and kickoff return yards (204) en route to 828 all-purpose yards … Rushed the ball 47 times for 259 yards and two TDs and added 365 receiving yards and two receiving TDs … As a freshman, hauled in 45 catches for 703 yards and had 10 rushes for 110 yards … HIGH SCHOOL: Rated the No. 85 WR in the nation by Scout.com … Ranked the No. 94 WR in the country by ESPN.com … Caught 26 passes for 426 yards and four TDs as a senior … Also ran for 172 yards and one TD … Caught 17 passes for 341 yards and two TDs as a junior … Coached in high school by Andre Thaddeus.

Herbert Moore

DT | 6-2 | 330 | Memphis East | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as the nation’s 56th-best defensive tackle by Rivals.com and 59th by ESPN.com … A consensus 3-star recruit … Rated the No. 16 prospect in Tennessee by Rivals.com and No. 17 by ESPN.com … Selected to play for Team USA Football at the 2012 IFAF Under-19 World Championship … Played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and the City of Memphis All-Star Game following his senior year … Named All-District 16-AAA first team … Recorded 54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, four fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown as a senior … Had 46 tackles and eight sacks as a junior … Coached in high school by Marcus Wimberly.

Kailo Moore

RB | 5-10 | 190 | West Bolivar HS | Rosedale, Miss.

HIGH SCHOOL: Selected as a Semper Fidelis and SuperPrep All-American … Rated a 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Listed as the sixth-best all-purpose back and No. 93 overall recruit in the nation by 247Sports.com … Listed as the No. 10 running back in the country by Tom Lemming and No. 19 by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Member of the Scout 300 and ESPN 300 … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Listed No. 4 on The Clarion-Ledger’s 10 Most Wanted and a member of the publication’s Dandy Dozen … Earned first team All-State honors from The Clarion-Ledger and the Mississippi Association of Coaches as both a junior and senior … Rushed for 1,218 yards and scored 18 touchdowns while leading West Bolivar to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs as a senior … Also had three interceptions on defense … As a junior, rushed for 1,470 yards and 19 TDs, leading the Eagles to a 15-1 record and the MHSAA Class 2A state championship … Set a school record with five TDs in one game … Coached in high school by Henry Johnson … Also a standout sprinter on the track, he was named Mississippi’s Mr. Track and Field by The Clarion-Ledger as a junior … Competed in the 100 meters and 200 meters at the 2011 USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships … Eleven-time state 2A champion during his high school track career … Won the state 2A 100-meter dash three times and the 200 twice, including as an eighth grader … Best times of 10.30 in the 100 and 21.22 in the 200.

Christian Morgan

TE | 6-4 | 255 | Prestonwood Christian Academy | Plano, Texas

HIGH SCHOOL: A 4-star prospect and the No. 11 TE in the nation according to Scout.com … Ranked the No. 12 TE in the nation by Tom Lemming, No. 16 by Rivals.com and No. 24 by 247Sports.com … Ranked the No. 12 TE-Y by ESPN.com … Rivals.com lists him as the No. 55 player in the state of Texas … A converted offensive lineman known primarily for his blocking ability, but still caught 31 passes for 497 yards and five TDs as a senior … Had 16 catches for 226 yards as a junior … Coached in high school by Chris Cunningham.

Robert Nkemdiche

DE | 6-5 | 270 | Grayson HS | Loganville, Ga.

HIGH SCHOOL: The consensus No. 1 overall recruit and top defensive end in the nation … An Under Armour, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection as a senior … Also earned All-America honors from USA Today as a junior … Three-time All-State selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press and Georgia Athletic Coaches Association … Racked up 41 career sacks during his high school career … Named the Gwinnett Daily Post County Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after recording 59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks to help Grayson win the Region 8-6A championship … Led a defense that allowed only 11 points a game … Also rushed for 235 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense … Tabbed the All-Class Player of the Year (AJC, Associated Press), Gwinnett Daily Post County Defensive Player of the Year and Touchdown Club of Gwinnett Athlete of the Year after his junior season in which he led Grayson to a 15-0 record, Class 5A state title and a No. 4 national ranking by USA Today … Posted 59 tackles and 18 sacks as a junior, while rushing for 528 yards and 17 touchdowns … Played in the AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl … Younger brother of the Rebels’ All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche … High school teammate of fellow Ole Miss signee David Kamara … Coached in high school by Mickey Conn.

Andy Pappanastos

K | 5-11 | 180 | Trinity Presbyterian | Montgomery, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: Named an All-American by Kohl’s Kicking and MaxPreps U.S. Air Force … Three-time Class 3A All-State selection … Set the Alabama high school career record for field goals made with 48, which was two shy of the national record … His 279 career kicking points scored are third all-time in Alabama high school history … Named All-Metro 1A-4A Player of the Year by the Montgomery Advertiser … Named the Montgomery QB Club Private School Player of the Year … Four-year starting kicker and three-year starting safety for Trinity … A two-year starter and first team All-Metro pick in soccer … Coached in high school by Randy Ragsdale.

Marcus Robinson

LB | 6-4 | 210 | Memphis East HS | Memphis, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: Ranked the No. 26 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 36 outside linebacker by Scout.com … A consensus 3-star recruit … Listed as the No. 13 player in Tennessee by Rivals.com, No. 18 by 247Sports.com and No. 19 by ESPN.com … Named a Class 5A All-State first team LB by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as a senior … Played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and the City of Memphis All-Star Game following his senior year … Named All-District 16-AAA first team … Recorded 84 tackles and two interceptions on defense and 12 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns on offense as a senior … Had 92 tackles, 13 TFLs, four forced fumbles and an interception as a junior … Invited to the 2012 Nike football combine “The Opening” … Also played basketball … Coached in high school by Marcus Wimberly.

Ray Ray Smith

LB | 6-3 | 210 | Florence HS | Florence, Ala.

HIGH SCHOOL: Listed as a 3-star prospect by all the major recruiting services and the No. 72 outside linebacker in the country by ESPN.com … Rated the 20th-best player in Alabama by Rivals.com and 24th by ESPN.com … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … Named a first team Class 4A-6A All-State linebacker by the Times Daily and Class 6A honorable mention by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … Made 88 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior … Led Florence to the AHSAA Class 6A state playoffs … Also played basketball and competed in the javelin and high jump in track … Coached in high school by Jamey DuBose.

Laquon Treadwell

WR | 6-3 | 198 | Crete-Monee HS | Crete, Ill.

HIGH SCHOOL: An Under Armour, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection … Rated a 5-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and MaxPreps and the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver by Tom Lemming, Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Listed as the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation by Rivals.com, No. 6 by MaxPreps, No. 19 by ESPN.com, No. 28 by 247Sports.com and No. 30 by Scout.com … Regarded as Illinois’ top football recruit in 2013 … Had six catches for 46 yards in the Under Armour All-America Game … One of 16 final candidates for the 2013 U.S. Army Player of the Year … Named the Chicago Tribune Player of the Year, NWI Times Offensive Player of the Year and All-State first team as a senior … Led Crete-Monee to the Class 6A state title and hauled in 81 catches for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 257 yards and seven more TDs on the ground … Also had 56 tackles and six interceptions on defense … Named the NWI Times Offensive Player of the Year, Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a first team All-State pick as a junior when he recorded 75 catches for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns … Also had 45 tackles, 10 TFLS and eight sacks on defense as a junior … A three-time All-Area selection … Had 58 catches for 811 yards and seven TDs as a sophomore … High school teammate of current Ole Miss defensive back Anthony Standifer … Coached in high school by Jerry Verde.

Laremy Tunsil

OL | 6-6 | 320 | Columbia HS | Lake City, Fla.

HIGH SCHOOL: A U.S. Army, USA Today, MaxPreps and SuperPrep All-America selection … A consensus 5-star recruit and No. 1-rated offensive tackle in the nation by all the major recruiting services … Rated the nation’s No. 3 overall recruit by 247Sports.com, No. 5 by ESPN.com, No. 7 by Scout.com and MaxPreps and No. 14 by Rivals.com … Listed as Florida’s top recruit by 247Sports.com and second-best by Rivals.com … Ranked No. 5 on the Orlando Sentinel’s Florida Top 100 and No. 1 on the paper’s North Florida Super60 … Florida Dairy Farmers Class 6A Player of the Year … First team Class 6A All-State pick by the Associated Press … Helped Columbia run for 275 yards per game en route to the Class 6A state quarterfinals … Associated Press All-State first team selection as a junior, as well … Coached in high school by Brian Allen.

Jordan Wilkins

RB | 6-1 | 210 | St. Benedict at Auburndale HS | Cordova, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL: A SuperPrep All-America selection … A consensus 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Rated the No. 9 all-purpose back in the nation by 247Sports.com and the nation’s No. 10 big back by Tom Lemming … Listed as the 20th-best running back by Rivals.com and 21st by ESPN.com … A member of the ESPN 300 … Three-time Division 2-AA All-State selection by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association … Rushed for 1,041 yards and 14 touchdowns in just seven games as a senior before suffering a season-ending knee injury … An honorary selection to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and City of Memphis All-Star Game … Rushed for 1,546 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and was one of three finalists for the Division 2-AA Back of the Year … Also played basketball … Younger brother of Vanderbilt wide receiver Trey Wilkins … Coached in high school by Michael Davidson.

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Tennessee will once again checker-out Neyland Stadium

Florida v Tennessee

Last year was so successful, Tennessee is going to do it again.

Tennessee fans started a grassroots effort to check-out Neyland Stadium last season, giving a fresh and unique spin on the whole concept of decking the entire crowd out in one uniform color. This even goes beyond the stripe-out efforts that have started to crop up around the country. The movement caught fire and Tennessee’s athletics department helped finalize the final efforts to make it a reality. Now they are ready to give it another whirl.

Though it had been speculated as a likely event, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed today Tennessee will deck the fans out in the coordinated orange and white for the home game against Oklahoma on September 12.

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LSU adds second Super Bowl-esque halftime show

Aloe Blacc

Forget about laser light shows and well-choreographed halftime shows by marching bands. LSU is attempting to raise the bar when it comes to halftime entertainment.

Fans attending LSU home games this season will be treated to two shows more likely to resemble a Super Bowl halftime concert than a traditional college football halftime show with the band or bands taking the field. Earlier this week LSU announced a performance by One Republic at halftime of the October 17 game against Florida. Today came another halftime performance announcement. Aloe Blacc has been added to the line-up this season, with a November 14 halftime performance when LSU takes on Arkansas.

“Another Saturday in Tiger Stadium just got bigger,” said Don Green, president of College Live LLC, in a released statement. “It is very exciting to bring great artists into Tiger Stadium to play with LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland. These unique performances will only add to the reputation of Tiger Stadium being one of the greatest places to watch football.”

Well, some traditionalists may be well-suited to bicker with that last statement from Green. These types of halftime shows tend to detract from the football game itself, but we’re not exactly ready to leap into a world where every week college football teams are going to have Super Bowl-elaborate performances. And at least it makes for a unique experience for the folks in the LSU marching band, right?

Give LSU credit. In an age where college football administrators are focused on finding new and creative ways to enhance the gameday experience as attendance issues continue to grow, LSU is thinking outside the box by bringing in live performers for fans to enjoy, some more than others. Although Aloe Blacc is scheduled to perform a song titled “I Need A Dollar,” which feels oddly appropriate given the nature of college football these days.

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Temple’s P.J. Walker gains maturity as he preps for Penn State

P.J. Walker

It is not often Temple enters a season with high expectations, but that appears to be the case with the Owls in 2015. Though other teams may be favored to make a run in the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati is the preseason favorite), many have been lauding Temple’s returning experience this fall. No team can match the experience Temple brings back in 2015 with 10 defensive starters and seven more on offense set to return. It is what Temple does with that experience that matters most, and head coach Matt Rhule feels his quarterback, P.J. Walker, is ready to take the next steps entering his third year under center.

“In the history of Temple, there are only a couple of guys that have been bowl-eligible quarterbacks,” Rhule said in a story published by CSN Philly. “To me, it’s just taking the next step and it’s just one simple thing and one simple thing only: don’t turn the football over as much.”

Walker had 15 interceptions last year, so Rhule’s concern is valid. Fortunately, Rhule also sees improvement in his quarterback in practices.

“You see a totally different kid maturity-wise,” he said. “Not that he was an immature kid; he just understands more and more of the game. He is a winner. My point to him was keep winning. He got us to six wins. Now make the next jump.”

Rhule will see his quarterback put to the test on Saturday afternoon. Temple opens the season at home against Penn State, which should bring a strong defensive secondary to Lincoln Financial Field.

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Florida QB Treon Harris gets the start, but Grier will play too

Florida Spring Game

Florida used to be known for playing multiple quarterbacks, and it helped Steve Spurrier take the Gators to an elite status and helped Urban Meyer win his first national championship. New Gators coach Jim McElwain may not have that kind of quarterback pool to swim in down in Gainesville, but he will continue this Florida tradition to open the season. Well, technically.

McElwain announced today Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback for the Gators when they host New Mexico State on Saturday. Will Grier will also get some playing time though.

“This is still a painting in progress,” McElwain explained. “This is two guys pulling in the same direction to help this football team.”

Like a handful of teams around the country, there simply is no clear winner in the quarterback competition at Florida just yet, so seeing what each can do in a live game situation can be critical. This holds especially true at Florida with a brand new head coach who has not previously worked with either player during the course of the regular season.

Harris played in nine games last season for the Gators, in which he completed 49.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions thrown. Grier was a four-star dual-threat quarterback recruit for Florida in the Class of 2014. Despite enrolling early at Florida in 2014, he did not play last season and was able to save the season with a redshirt.

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Kyle Flood fires back at latest incriminating story

Kyle Flood

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is none too pleased about anonymous sources from Rutgers leaking information about an investigation to the media. Whether he violated university policy or directions or not, Flood has a legitimate gripe.

Earlier today NJ.com reported the latest developments on the investigation involving the head football coach, in which Flood is accused of intentionally going around the backs of academic support staff instructions to contact a professor at the university directly with regard to the eligibility of one of his players. After initially declining to comment on the latest story earlier in the day, Flood let it pour out.

As transcribed by CoachingSearch.com;

“Let me ask this question before I respond: What you’re saying to me is, that a process that I’ve been told from the university not to comment on was commented on by people from the university?” Flood said. “I’m going to continue to respect the process, and I won’t have any further comment until the end of the process.”

Again, whether Flood was in the wrong or not with his alleged actions, he absolutely has a right to be upset about this development. If he was given instructions not to comment on the investigation, then nobody else from the university should have shared pertinent information either. The fault here is not on the report from NJ.com or any other outlet that followed up with commentary on the report, but on the anonymous sources that shared the information.

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TCU defense will be down two players against Minnesota

Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl - Mississippi v TCU Getty Images

The names of two defensive players not playing the season opener at Minnesota have not been confirmed by head coach Gary Patterson, but the release of the Horned Frogs’ depth chart seems to draw some conclusions. Defensive end James McFarland and cornerback DeShawn Raymond were not listed on the depth chart for the season opener, which would seem to strongly suggest which two players will not be available for the game, for whatever reason or reasons that may be.

Patterson offered no information regarding the identities of the two players he said will miss the game, saying only “You’ll find out when we get to game time.”

McFarland was TCU’s leading sack master last fall with seven sacks. His defensive efforts earned him MVP honors in TCU’s blowout win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. McFarland did miss some practice time this spring as he worked to get his foot back in good order. Whether an injury is the reason McFarland may not be available is unknown, as Patterson has designed.

If nothing else can be learned from a batch of the season’s opening depth charts, it is that coaches do not like to tip their hands. the number of quarterbacks listed with “or” by their names has become a bit of a humorous trend as coaches look to hide as much information as possible entering the first games of the season, and this is no different.

TCU’s defense is actually one of the bigger questions for the Horned Frogs this season, which seems to go against the grain when it comes to a Patterson-coached team. But even without a couple of players for the opener, it is expected Patterson will find a way to figure enough out on defense to give TCU a chance to make a run in the Big 12 and perhaps the playoffs.

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Nebraska’s Mike Riley accused of fostering sexually violent culture that led to rape in 1999

Mike Riley

Well, this is certainly among the last things Nebraska head coach Mike Riley would have liked to see just days before starting a new season at his new job. A former student at Oregon State has filed a Title IX lawsuit that blames Riley of failing to address an allegedly sexually violent culture at Oregon State, which allegedly led to a rape back in 1999.

According to a report from The Oregonian, the woman filing the lawsuit claims she was raped on October 9, 1999 while a freshman at Oregon State. According to the alleged victim’s story, she attended an off-campus party, passed out and was escorted to an apartment she claims some Oregon State football players lived. It is there she claims to have been raped.

“She was being sexually assaulted by the young man who had offered her the beer,” the suit says. “She was unable to move her arms or legs to fight back. She faded back out of consciousness.”

The alleged victim filed a report in the next 48 hours to an Oregon State sexual assault counselor and claims that counselor attempted to persuade her to thinking she consenting to the sexual interaction. The suit claims that counselor attempted to prevent the victim from pursuing any other assistance on the manner. This lawsuit now intends to correct a wrong that allegedly happened more than a decade ago, and Riley has been thrown into the mix as well. The alleged victim was inspired to come forward after a previous report on another victim surfaced in 2014, in which that woman claimed to have been raped by two Oregon State football players in 1998 in the same apartment complex.

Riley is accused of not addressing the culture of his football team with regard to sexual violence. While he ultimately is not responsible for the action of players under his watch, it is his responsibility to ensure his players are aware of the consequences for putting the football program in a negative light. The sad reality is, whether Riley is to blame or not for what occurred at Oregon State, there is no telling how many of these sorts of cases are out there hidden in the shadows by victims on campuses across the country. The awareness has certainly grown in more recent years, but the turn of the century was a completely different environment, and the decades going back likely have more dark tales that may never be told.

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Report: Kyle Flood defied Rutgers academic support staff

Kyle Flood

Last week it was reported Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood was being investigated for alleged impermissible contact with a university faculty member. The latest twist in this story suggests Flood may have done so despite being advised not to do so by academic support staff members.

A new report from NJ.com cites multiple unnamed university officials in saying Flood was instructed by academic support staff not to make contact with a professor to inquire about the academic standing of one of his players, reported to be cornerback Nadir Barnwell. The university is investigating an email allegedly from Flood from a private account. But the scope of the investigation is focused more on the possibility Flood tried to work around the process regarding academics and football, not simply just that Flood used a private email to contact a professor.

While only one side of the story, the story painted by the NJ.com is none too flattering to Flood’s involvement with the status of Barnwell. Per the report, academic support staff had been communicating with a professor of Barnwell’s since May with regard to his academic standing. Flood was kept apprised of the situation, which is customary for an academic support staff and coach. However, one source to NJ.com suggests Flood attempted to intervene directly with the professor with regard to Barnwell’s eligibility despite the academic support staff handling the situation.

Per NJ.com’

“The communication with him was clear as to the status of Nadir’s grade and he still decided he could fight it,” said one official, who claimed Flood “had a long paper trail of information” and still contacted the professor.

Another official said: “It was already done and everybody in the program knew it. Kyle was told, ‘It’s done, leave it alone.’ ”

If found guilty of violating university protocol, the punishment for Flood could range from something as light as a reprimand to as severe as the termination of his contract. The Big Ten already had one coach fail to reach the start of the new season. The chances a second loses his job before kickoff are probably pretty small.

Flood responded to the initial report last week by saying the accusations insulted his integrity. When given an opportunity to respond to this latest development in the story, Flood did not comment out of respect for the university process.

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Washington State and C. Michigan to tangle in 2019 & 2021

Washington State and Central Michigan have agreed to a future home-and-home series that will see the Pac-12 and the world of MACtion cross paths. That could be a lot of fun, but we will have to wait for this particular series to begin.

Washington State will visit Central Michigan on September 14, 2019. Central Michigan will make the return trip two years later on September 4, 2021. Barring any potential bowl meetings before 2019, the 2019 meeting will mark the first in the series history between the two schools. The addition of Central Michigan to the 2019 schedule also completes Washington State’s non-conference portion of the schedule. The Cougars will also host Northern Colorado (Sep 7, 2019) and BYU (Oct 12, 2019). Central Michigan still has two vacancies to fill in 2019 and three in 2021. The Chippewas play at Wisconsin the week before hosting Washington State in 2019.

The series was put together by athletic directors Bill Moos (WSU) and Dave Heeke (CMU), who were former colleagues at Oregon in the past (according to The Seattle Times).

Unlike the ACC, Big Ten and SEC, the Pac-12 does not require its members to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent. BYU does count toward satisfying those requirements though in each of those conferences, so if the Pac-12 did adopt a similar policy the Cougars would be in the clear by having BYU on the schedule in 2019.

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Clemson AD: ACC needs to prove itself on the field (again)

Steven Duggar, Thomas Brittle

For years the message from ACC commissioner John Swofford was the conference needed to win big game against other top conferences on the field. Despite some good results in recent years, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich says the conference will once again have to change the narrative circling its conference by winning big game son the field.

“I think the ACC is a very, very good league. In some ways, it’s underrated,” Radakovich said in an interview with ESPN.com. “But like everything else, you need to go out and do it on the field. You’ve got to win games.”

The ACC went 4-7 in bowl games last season, which included losing seasons in head-to-head bowl matchups against the Big Ten (0-2), Pac-12 (0-2, including Florida State’s College Football Playoff loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl) and the SEC (1-2). The ACC did win its only bowl match-up against the Big 12 with Clemson demolishing Oklahoma. The ACC also ended the regular season with four wins against SEC rivals, which should not be forgotten.

“We’re only [a year] from having a national champion, and Florida State obviously made the playoff last year. Our program has done well,” Radakovich explained. “Georgia Tech always seems to be in the mix and obviously did a great job last year in their bowl game. Virginia Tech traditionally has done very well. Louisville is a team that needs to be reckoned with. And Miami with all their history and tradition is one that everybody is waiting for them to get back to the Miami of old. So I think the league as a whole is still very, very good. But you have to prove it on the field.”

The importance on an entire conference winning big games in the regular season showed its value last season. The Big 12 had co-champions in Baylor and TCU with identical 11-1 records. One of the biggest criticisms of the Big 12 was the overall body of work, not just for Baylor but the conference as a whole. The Big 12 lacked key victories in non-conference games outside of TCU beating Minnesota and Oklahoma topping Tennessee. Not only is a school’s individual body of work important when assessing playoff contenders, but the conference’s overall reputation can help push a team into the playoff when push comes to shove. It is why you are already hearing some ask the question of whether or not a 2-loss SEC champion should still have a spot reserved in the postseason dance this fall. It is a question worth asking because the SEC has raised the bar and has a number of high-quality non-conference matchups lined up to fall back on.

But narratives are not part of the equation in the selection committee’s meeting rooms, says Radakovich.

“As a member of the playoff committee, people came in and had done their homework and had looked at the leagues they were first assigned to look at, and college football in general. They all came in prepared to talk about each team. There were no narratives brought into the room.”

What narratives won’t be discussed by the selection committee this season? We’re going to find out soon enough.

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Rutgers to name starting QB… at halftime?

Kyle Flood

By default we already know who the starting quarterback will be for Rutgers in the season opener against Norfolk State. Hayden Rettig has already been reported to be the starting quarterback for the Scarlet Knights in the first game of the season while Chris Laviano sits out the first half of the game. Laviano was suspended by the program for a violation of team rules in late August, but he — along with wide receiver Leonte Carroo — will be eligible to return to the game in the second half.

This is when Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is expected to announce his quarterback decision for the 2015 season.

“Hayden Rettig is the starting quarterback,” Flood said, according to NJ.com. “We’re going to evaluate the first half and we’ll make a decision at halftime as to how we’re going to proceed.”

Rettig and Laviano had been competing for the starting job as Rutgers looks to replace Gary Nova. There had been no real separation in the competition out of the spring and over the course of the summer, and it would seem the first-half suspension has not put much jeopardy in Laviano’s chances to claim the starting job. Opening against an FCS program is always a good opportunity to play multiple quarterbacks if there is still a question to be answered at the position, and Rutgers has some time to work through the situation before entering Big Ten play.

It might be good for Flood if he can get it figured out a little bit earlier though as Washington State is scheduled to pay a visit in Week 2. The Cougars are known to move the ball through the air with Mike Leach at the helm, and Washington State is looking to avenge last season’s wild season-opening loss at home to Rutgers. Rutgers visits Penn State in Week 3 to open the Big Ten schedule.

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: SEC Predictions

As the 2015 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the home of the defending national champion, the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out some of our other Power Five conference predictions HERE (ACC), HERE (Big 12) and HERE (Big Ten) as the CFT team continues to take its month-long glimpse of the upcoming season.

SEC EAST

1. Georgia (10-3; beat Louisville in Belk Bowl)
There is one certainty when it comes to the East: UGA will not finish lower than third, a low-water benchmark for each of Mark Richt‘s 14 seasons in Athens that has included five division titles — none since 2012, though.  They return the most talent of any team in the division, although the fact that they opted for Grayson Lambert as the starting quarterback has me second-guessing my prediction.  It’s been a decade since UGA’s last SEC championship, and if they’re going to get back to that level they’ll have to do so with a schedule that includes both Alabama and Auburn as well as a road trip to Tennessee.  Still, anything less than an East title and a spot in the SEC championship game would be decidedly disappointing — and would lead to yet another offseason of “is it time to go in another direction?” speculation.

2. Tennessee (7-6; beat Iowa in Taxslayer Bowl)
Am I a year early with this lofty projection?  Possibly, especially given the team right below them.  Still, there’s no denying that Butch Jones has stuffed his talent cupboard after the barren years under his predecessor, Derek Dooley.  The Vols closed out last year on a positive note, going 4-1 down the stretch — the lone loss coming by eight to Mizzou — capping it off with an impressive 45-28 win over the Hawkeyes in the bowl game.  That final flourish coincided with Josh Dobbs‘ ascension as the starting quarterback.  With the scintillating playmaker poised to build off his first season at this level, the Vols could very well challenge both UGA and Mizzou for East supremacy.

3. Missouri (11-3; beat Minnesota in Citrus Bowl)
“Here we go again, denigrating the two-time defending East champion Tigers.” — the two Mizzou fans who frequent this site, probably.  And, actually, that’s an understandable reaction, given how the Tigers have been the class of the division the past two seasons.  They’re also one of the few teams in the conference that returns its starting quarterback.  Still, there are concerns along the defensive line — they return just five starters on that side of the ball, period — and their schedule doesn’t do them very many favors as they play at Georgia and Arkansas as well as play host to Mississippi State.  It wouldn’t shock me, though, if Mizzou made it three straight titles.  In fact, the only thing that would shock the system is if they finish outside the top three in the division.

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Nick Saban, winner of four national titles, says he should have won four more

Nick Saban

Winning a national championship is hard. Winning two can be even harder. Three or four? Nearly impossible in today’s world, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been the coach to have done it four times (one with LSU, three with Alabama). Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has three under his belt (two with Florida, one with Ohio State) and is looking for a fourth this season as well. Saban has proven capable of amassing enough talent to have a national title contender on an annual basis, but has ended the year with a postseason loss each of the past two seasons. That does not sit well with the Crimson Tide head coach, who said in a radio interview yesterday he feels he should have won four more national titles.

“We haven’t finished the season in the last two seasons like we’d like,” Saban said to ESPN’s Paul Finebaum (per Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “People talk about you won four national championships. Well, I feel like we’ve had good enough teams to win eight. So I feel like we failed four times. I feel like I failed four times.”

Alabama had a chance last season as the top seed in the new College Football Playoff. The Tide were turned aside by Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game. The previous season Alabama missed a chance to play for the national title when Auburn stunned them in the Iron Bowl with the Kick-Six, knocking Alabama out of the SEC Championship Game out of the SEC West and relegating Alabama to a Sugar Bowl match-up with Oklahoma instead. You might say Alabama was one win away from a national championship each of the past two seasons. Alabama may have been a favorite against Jameis Winston and Florida State in the final BCS National Championship Game two seasons ago, and Alabama may have been a favorite against Oregon in last year’s College Football Playoff national championship game.

Saban also reflected on his coaching future while on air with Finebaum. He showed no sign of contemplating retirement, suggesting if he is in good enough shape to play golf for 16 more years, he should be able to coach as well. Saban will turn 64 years old this October.

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Could Sun Belt futures of Idaho, New Mexico State be in doubt?

Have you or anyone you know ever had one of those moments where you say something out loud during a conference call thinking your line is on mute – only it’s not? Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson may be fighting that feeling right now.

In a conference call heralding the addition of Coastal Carolina, Benson acknowledged far west members Idaho and New Mexico State could be on the chopping block.

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In his defense, Benson only acknowledged the obvious. Considering the Big 12 and ACC-led legislation allowing leagues to hold title games outside the 12-plus team, two-division structure should pass before Coastal Carolina joins the conference in 2017, adding a 12th team for the sake of holding a conference championship game makes about as much sense as…. having your conference footprint spread from Moscow, Idaho to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

That’s not to say the Vandals and Aggies should go packing their bags, however.

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Still, chalk that decision up to a commissioner throwing cold water on a line of questioning that he himself opened.

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Georgia (finally) receives approval for indoor facility

Georgia Southern v Georgia

For years, Georgia’s indoor facility was like that swarm of African killer bees you heard about as a kid: rumored to be on its way, though no one ever actually laid eyes on it.

Well, the bees have arrived.

The University of Georgia athletics board has approved construction on a $30 million indoor facility, to break ground after the 2015 season. The facility will run 140 yards long, 80 yards wide and 76 feet high.

Previously, the Dawgs bussed to the Atlanta Falcons facility when Mother Nature deemed necessary, a wart on the program coaches say was used against Georgia on the recruiting trail.

“I know he is excited for this day to come,” athletics director Greg McGarity said of head coach Mark Richt. “He is chomping at the bit to send renderings to prospects and team members and the coaching staff. And now we’ve got that done.”

“I know our competitors are not going to say nothing bad about the coaching staff here, they’re not going to say nothing bad about the people here because it’s a great place,” defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said last November. “One thing they’re going to say is, and that they’ve always said is, ‘How important is football at Georgia if they don’t have an indoor practice facility?’ Well they won’t be able to say that anymore.”

Half of the $30.2 million will come through the department’s reserve fund, and the other half through fundraising. Construction is expected to be complete “hopefully early on” in 2017.

“Getting the $15 million raised as quickly as possible would be optimal,” Georgia president Jere Morehead told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here’s hoping the Dawgs can keep those bees out.

 

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